How to Keep Cats off Counters in 3 Steps | Pet PRO Advice

How to Keep Cats off Counters in 3 Steps

Flat surfaces such as tables, desks, and counters seem to draw cats irresistibly and can cause you (and them) no end of trouble. Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to keep cats off of counters (and other flat spaces). Keep reading to learn how to keep cats off counters in just 3 easy steps. Each step has a brief explanation, followed by bullet points that further outline how you can implement the step in your home. In no time at all, you can have your cat comfortably seated off the counter and both you and they will be happier for it.

Step 1: Deduce Why Your Cat Is Attracted to the Counter(s) in Question

How to Keep Cats off Counters in 3 Steps

Contrary to what it may seem, your cat is not really the snooty little punk who likes to cause problems. Sometimes that is the case, but more often than not there is a driving factor behind their love of the counter.

Look for some of these common things might be enticing your cat up onto the counter:

1. Sunlight

Cats will often relax and nap while curled up in the sun. If sunlight is landing on your counter that is one reason your cat(s) may have chosen that spot

2. Height

Cats like watching their environment. If your counter is one of the few (or only) space that allows them to perch and keep an eye on things that will propel them to make use of your counter.

3. Food

Let’s face it… food will always be a motivator for both humans and their furry friends alike. Your cat(s) might be staking out your counter because you left food out or dirty dishes. They have learned that this is a snacking place whenever they perceive themselves to be hungry.

4. Water

As much as most cats hate water, they do enjoy playing with small streams of it as well as taking a sip every now and then. If your cat favors the faucet it is most likely due to curiosity or thirst.

Note: If none of these seem to be compelling your cat and nothing else seems to be a viable option for their counter-loving behavior then it’s time to admit that your cat is a little punk and you, poor human, are doomed.

Step 2: Provide Alternatives to the Temptation(s)

How to Keep Cats off Counters in 3 Steps

Once you have a good idea of what is causing your cat to use your counter space, the next step on how to keep your cat off counters is to provide alternatives to that rewarding counter spot. With the right alternative, you will be able to keep that pleasure factor for your cat without increasing your stress factor. According to Jackson Galaxy, author and cat savant, “For every ‘no’, make sure there is a ‘yes'”. Providing your cat with alternatives to the counter will get you one step closer to keeping them off the counter for good.

Here are some alternatives to the counter:

1. Perches

If your cat is attracted to sunlight, try giving them a perch near a different window. You can even set something up near the counter in order for them to still feel involved, while at the same time keeping them nicely out of your way. If you are not able to set up a perch near the window, or if your cat is still utilizing the counter, try closing the blinds and eliminating that ‘reward’.

2. Cat Trees

If it is a height factor causing your cat to jump up on the counter, make sure they have another tall, flat space to sit and keep an eye on things. If you find that you don’t have one, invest in a cat tree and try and situate it somewhere conveniently close to most of the action. Cat trees are available in all shapes and sizes and as a bonus, they often double as a scratching post.

3. Food Bowl

Cats are often natural scavengers. However, if they are consistently climbing on the counter in search of food it may be because they are coming. Ensuring that they have a readily accessible food bowl is how to keep cats off counters if it’s driven by hunger. If it’s not so much hunger as nibbling, do your best to keep food – and dirty dishes – off the counter and either clean more often or at least leave food-encrusted dishes to soak.

4. Water Dish

If your cat is on the counter because he or she is thirsty, make sure they have a water bowl that is cleaned regularly and filled daily with fresh water. Let’s face it, no one likes day-old water that has been sitting out and cats are no exception. Providing this as an alternative can help nip the counter-jumping habit in the bud.

Step 3: Gently Discourage and/or Un-reward Counter Climbing Behavior

Despite the steps you take to provide alternatives to your countertops, a good number of cats will continue to lounge where you don’t want them. Make sure you keep those alternatives readily available and look to start discouraging your cat from jumping up onto counters. A number of preferred, non-harmful methods for how to keep cats off counters are:

1. Repellant

The main benefit of repellants is that they are consistent. This is key when considering how to keep cats off counters. The gentlest, yet most effective type of repellent is a motion-activated one that releases a puff of air when triggered. They are non-toxic, easy to obtain and you can position them right by the counter to discourage your cat from sitting or jumping onto the counter.

2. Double-Sided Tape

Cats do not like sticky surfaces which is why double-sided sticky tape is another safe, yet effective method for discouraging your cat from sitting on the counter. You can purchase a thicker, double-sided tape for cats (or any pets) at most local pet stores. Simply cover the surface area(s) your cat tends to use and let the stickiness take it from there.

3. Aluminum Foil or Sandpaper

Much like their dislike for sticky surfaces, cats have an equal dislike for rough surfaces (hence the sandpaper) and unpredictable noise (aka aluminum foil). Like the tape, cover the surface area(s) your cat tends to use on the counter and let these things take it from there.

Note: The only downside to these vs the tape is that these tend to rip faster and need to be replaced at a steadier rate than the tape.

4. Strong-Scented Oils

Cats are sensitive to strong, pungent odors and tend to avoid them. A fairly simple deterrent for how to keep your cat off counters is to leave drops of an oil such as peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, lavender or cinnamon on the counter(s) in question. Oil diffusers, candles or fresh herbs (e.g. lavender) may also do the trick. Another alternative is fresh fruit peels for the citrus scent – they just tend to dry out and are only good for a day or so.


The next time you see your cat prepare to launch themselves on to your counter space, relax. You don’t have to worry about how to keep cats off counters with these 3 simple steps in your pocket. It isn’t expensive or tedious, it just takes consistency. In time, both you and your cat will understand the boundaries and it will leave you with a happy cat and a clean counter. If you have any tips to share in addition to the steps above, leave a comment below! Each cat has their own personality and we’d love to hear what has worked for you.

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